|Project by KnickKnack||posted 03-23-2016 11:20 AM||1282 views||0 times favorited||10 comments|
Many of my projects have really quite long gestation periods – an idea gets kicked around for a while and, if nothing can yet be made of it, it gets shelved until a few months later when a new attempt is made to “projectize” it.
Not so with this – the initial idea was the mortise joint through the classic inverted Art Deco triangle, and this never got shelved.
That’s not to say there weren’t serious issues along the way – I never did manage to come up with a complete drawing that looked right, but I knew there was going to be a gap between table and top, and that I was going to want it floating. As with many things, proportion is key, and, somehow, those drawings never seemed to have “enough” float without being “too chubby”, or “too squat” or “too…”.
So, after a week of this frustration, I decided to just “start with the legs” and see how it went.
Well – that proved problematical – I don’t have much wood, and the choice is oak, beech, ash, and jatobá. It was obvious from minute one that the legs needed to be mirrored, so that required I bootmatch some wood, and then we’re back to the proportion problem – the legs needed sufficient gravitas, but my wood isn’t thick enough for that once it’s cut in half. Of course I could put two bits together, but I couldn’t really find anything with the right sort of pattern on it. Oh, frustration! I kept going backwards and forwards to the wood store with my ruler, trying to make it work, but it just wouldn’t. And then it popped into my head that I could use plywood and, that if I put it the right way, it could be as thick as I liked, whatever size I liked, and, with care, it would come free (well, almost) with bookmatching “V” shapes.
Of course, I have highbrow tendencies, and discounted idea this because “Plywood isn’t high end woodworkering”, and went back into frustration mode.
I have a stash of veneer, but they’re mostly single sheets, and what I have that’s matched isn’t big enough.
OK, so days pass and, in the end, I decide that I’m just going to make it from plywood anyway because my mind just keeps going back to that as being the “right thing here”, and that it will come out “pretty cool”, albeit, possibly, not “high end” but “why do I care?”, and I’m just fighting it.
Work starts by making a multi-layered plywood “block” and sawing it in two on the angle.
I decide that the sides of the legs will just be a little too plain, so I add some veneer there – I’ve always liked the way you can “fade” from veneer to the base wood, and I’m looking for something a little more smooth than my usual “very sharp” edges.
As I said in the beginning, I didn’t really know what was going to happen with the top, and, having got to this point (4 nice looking legs with potential), it seems obvious the top will have to be ply too.
I’ve had a tendency in the past to think that just the “idea” is enough to make something great, whereas, in fact, it really does need to be more than that.
That afternoon this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson crossed my Android as I was about to take my siesta…
”Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”
So I didn’t just “make the top from ply”, but went back to the drawing board to see if I could come up with something better. I drew a lot of things, some weird and wacky, which I was trying to avoid in this project, some that I couldn’t work out how to do, some that were cool but wouldn’t go with the legs, and eventually settled on what you see – not something I’ve ever done before but I thought something restrained but stylish, something pastel, something almost subtle, might be what was needed.
Of course, I have no veneer of that size, so I had to cut my own strips of wood.
Router came out of the table for the first time in about 4 years, and, after several hours, I’d managed to find the base to reattach.
Now, despite the fact that I pride myself on thinking things through in order to minimize the work, and the risk, I proceeded to cut ALL the slots for the inlay rather than just do one rectangle, inlay, repeat. So there was a lot more work inlaying, and it didn’t come out as well, as it should have done.
I’ve found a scraper to be best for flattening this sort of thing.
It then became clear that a single thickness of ply wasn’t enough, more had to be added, and I digress at this point…
The saying goes that “A bad workman blames his tools”, but seldom does one hear the opposite, so, in Oscar Style, I’d like to give a serious cap doff to the set of Japanese saws I had imported a few months back – I’ve been experimenting with one for a couple of years, but I decided that I was going to use these new guys in earnest on this project, so I drew my 45s, and cut. Frankly I was amazed that I managed to get everything so straight so I just kept going – my strategy is usually “hack and clean up”, but these saws are simply amazing – vertical requires a skill level I sometimes achieve and sometimes don’t, and if you start in the wrong direction then that’s a problem too, but at least it all happens pretty quickly! I cut the legs with them, the angles on the inlay, even most of the mortice holes (before finishing with a router).
Take a bow – Dozuki, Ryoba, and Kataba
As usual, it’s challenging to glue these things together…
And then it was all done.
There are some bits I’d do differently if I ever did it again, but I’m actually pretty pleased with what’s come out – I like the design, mostly, and it’s not too shabbily made.
850mm x 550mm x 330mm high.
9mm birch plywood, jatobá inlay, unknown veneer.
Of course, half of the legs is end grain, so it needed quite a lot of finishing – oil and then 8 thin coats of Danish Oil applied with 600 grit wet and dry.
Now I’m resting!
-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."